DirecTV Asks Broadcast Groups to Return Channels for Election Season

(Image credit: DirecTV)

DirecTV has asked two TV station groups to return their local stations to the DirecTV lineup for the next two weeks for the Nov. 8 midterm elections, and in essence suspending the current blackout. 

A total of 27 local stations owned by Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting have been removed from DirecTV’s lineup while the groups battle it out over retrans fees. The two groups are managed and controlled by Nexstar Media Group, the nation’s largest TV station group.  

"DirecTV has a standing offer to  both Mission and White Knight, strongly urging the two broadcasters to return all stations immediately to  impacted DirecTV customers in 25 Nielsen DMAs,” the company said in a press release. “In return, DirecTV will pay Mission and White Knight  whatever higher retransmission consent rates the parties eventually agree upon retroactively to the date the  signals are reinstated."  

DirecTV accused Nexstar of shirking its public obligations. “Nexstar Media Group…is currently no longer allowing access to local programming and important political conversation ahead of the mid-terms to an estimated 4 million homes across the U.S.,” the company said.

White Knight Broadcasting pulled its NBC and Fox affiliates from DirecTV on Oct. 7. Nexstar then pulled its  local broadcast stations and national news service NewsNation from Verizon Fios on Oct. 14. Mission  went dark on DirecTV on Oct. 21.  

“This is a critical time in American political life,” DirecTV added. “We are less than two weeks from one of the most important  Congressional midterm elections in American History, and gubernatorial elections in 36 states. The results of  this midterm will have a profound impact on some of the most important political, public health and economic  issues of our time."  

DirecTV accused the station groups of hypocrisy, saying that if the broadcast industry is so vital to the public square, then it should back it up with more than words.

"Broadcasters like Nexstar, Mission and White Knight claim a unique and special role in delivering news to  Americans,” DirecTV said. “The broadcast industry is, even now, asking Congress to provide it with special regulatory  protections… During the COVID-19 global pandemic in March 2020, Mission and Nexstar returned stations to DISH customers  that had been suspended since Jan. 3 to keep citizens informed as the health crisis unfolded. DirecTV now calls  upon Mission and White Knight to return stations operated by Nexstar through the conclusion of the critical  mid-term election while the parties continue to work privately toward a new agreement.”

A Nexstar spokesman told TV Tech sister brand NextTV not to involve them in the dispute.

"Despite DirecTV’s allegations, Nexstar is not a party to these negotiations and does not control any of these television stations,” Nexstar spokesman Gary Weitman said. ”These stations are owned by Mission Broadcasting, Inc., and White Knight Broadcasting, not Nexstar.” 

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.